Marqu’es Webb was back in the starting lineup for Vanderbilt and looked like she was mostly recovered from her injury. Vandy came out with a plan to prevent entry passes to Hillsman, and only Curtyce Knox seemed to be able to take advantage of the sagging defense in the first half. A&M only shot 30.6% before the intermission with Curtyce accounting for 12 of the Ags 26 point total, mostly on aggressive drives to the hoop. Hillsman was only able to get the ball in position to score twice, making one basket. Danni Williams may have suffered a GBH curse from the photo I posted noting her leading the SEC in scoring; she was 2-12 in the first half, missing a lot of open looks, sometimes badly.
The Ags struggles on offense may have been in part due to letting Vanderbilt set the pace of the game. New coach Stephanie White has talked about wanting to play fast. Here’s something she said after the Dores upset win against Duke:
“We have to live with some turnovers because we’re learning to play fast and learning how to make decisions,” White said. “And it comes without taking away their freedom. It’s allowing them to utilize their instincts and trust their instincts.”
Vandy was clearly trying to play fast and it seemed to me that the Ags were often rushing to match the pace. Indeed, the Commodores took 32 shots in the first half; A&M had 36. Unfortunately, we only shot 30.6% while they converted 46.9%. It also seemed like the Ags allowed a lot of drives, perhaps due to emphasis on stopping the Commodores SEC-leading ability to hit 3 pointers.
Halftime score Vandy 35, A&M 26
Vanderbilt stretched the lead to 13 at 7:37 in the third quarter on a pair of FTs by Rachel Bell on a play where we thought Curtyce had blocked the shot. Curtyce hit Danni for a layup on an inbound play, butBell answered with a pull up jumper over Lumpkin to make it 45-42 at 6:45. Danni got a hoop and a foul on another inbound play to cut the lead to 10, but once again Vanderbilt answered, this time with a 3 pointer by Cierra Walker on a kick out from the paint.
At this point, people in the crowd were murmuring about Penn State seizing the lead from USC in the Rose Bowl and more than a few may have been wondering if they should have stayed home to watch that on TV. But Anriel read a pass back to a 3 point shooter and picked it off for an end to end fast break layup that got the crowd back in the game. Coach Blair dialed up the full court pressure and Danni stole the inbounds pass. After a timeout, Danni missed a jumper, but Anriel got a putback to cut the lead to 9 with 4:16 left in the quarter. The lead would get back to 11, but a late 3 point play by Lumpkin made it 57-50 going into the final quarter.
As USC was mounting their 4th quarter comeback, the Ags were also coming up Roses. Lumpkin made it a personal 5-0 run by opening the final period with a putback of her own miss to cut the lead to 5. Curtyce swiped the inbounds pass and Danni found Khaalia for layup. Down 3. After getting a stop, Anriel followed a miss by Danni to cut it to 1. Lealea Carter broke the 8-0 run by drawing a foul on Lumpkin and hitting one of two FTs. But Jaz hit a pair of jumpers to give the Ags their first lead since the first quarter. All this happened in just the first 2.5 minutes of the final period.
Vandy would tie it up at 62 and 64 before another steal by Anriel set up a drive and foul for Curtyce. Knox hit both FTs and then Webb turned it over. Another lob to Khaalia gave the Ags their biggest lead at 70-64 with 2:54 to go. Vandy would cut it to one twice, but the Ags hit their FTs to ice an emotional comeback 77-72 win.
All 5 starters ended up in double figures in scoring. Howard and Hillsman both had double doubles. Lumpkin as 6-7 from the field and 3-3 from the FT line in the second half getting 15 of her 17 after the break. Danni only had 4 FGs on 22 attempts, but was 7-7 from the FT line to finish with 15 points. Curtyce went from mostly scoring in the first half to mostly dishing out assists in the second. 7 of her 9 assists were in the second half. She finished with 16 points, 9 assists, 3 steals, a block, and just 1 turnover.
Vanderbilt outrebounded the Ags 44-32. But the dominance was mainly on the defensive glass while A&M was missing in the first half. A&M held the Commodores to just 4-15 from 3 point distance; they had been averaging 7.5 made 3s per game. 16 turnovers (11 in the second half), were important. The Ags won points off turnovers 23-5 and second chance points 16-2.
After the game, both coaches noted the crowd of 4033 contributing to the Ags win.
- Georgia Bulldogs
- 6PM CST January 5, 2016
- Stegman Coliseum, Athens GA
- Streaming SECN+ Radio 1150AM/102.7FM
By starting a day after the rest of the conference, the team will play 3 games in 6 days, with this coming weekend on the road, first at Georgia and then at Kentucky. The Lady Bulldogs are 8-6 after dropping their SEC opener to Mizzou in an ugly game. The Lady Bulldogs shot 30.2% for the game, got outrebounded, and turned it over 16 times. Georgia lost the game in the 3rd quarter when they scored only 6 points by hitting one layup and going 4-6 from the FT line. Starters vs Mizzou were:
- #33 6-2 Jr F Mackenzie Engram is the only returning starter from last year’s game at Reed Arena. Engram will likely play the post against Khaalia.
- #04 6-3 So F Caliya Robinson leads the team in scoring at 16.3 ppg. Something happened with Robinson to lead to a coaches decision DNP vs W. Carolina. Not sure if it was an injury issue or a disciplinary thing. Robinson jumped the tipoff vs Mizzou.
- #11 5-11 RS Sr G/F Pachis Roberts is a Syracuse transfer who played 16 minutes against the Ags last year and scored 13 points. She’s second in scoring (12.9 ppg) leads in rebounds (7.4 rpg) and is tied for the lead in assists.
- #12 5-9 Jr G Haley Clark is the PG. She played the 2 guard last year after Shacobia Barbee was injured. Senior Marjorie Butler ran the point, but this season Clark has moved back to PG. She’s had turnover issues so far this year: 46 assists vs 49 turnovers.
- #24 5-10 Jr G Simone Costa is a Juco transfer from Portugal by way of Independence Community College in Kansas.
6-2 Sr F Halle Washington and 6-2 Sr G Shanea Armbrister should also see significant minutes.